It’s a problem facing librarians around the globe: How do you ensure someone entitled to use your content can access it whenever, and wherever, they need it? With the growth of mobile devices and remote working, the task of identifying legitimate users has become increasingly complex.
RA21—Resource Access for the 21st Century—aims to find a solution. This joint initiative by STM, the International Association of Scientific, Technical and Medical Publishers, and NISO is currently exploring alternatives to traditional access and identity management tools.
In a nutshell, RA21 wants to provide users with a simple, seamless, customizable and secure way to access scholarly information resources.Most of us log into multiple websites in our daily lives, and publishers and libraries should aim to make the login systems as similar to those experiences as possible. The federated authentication system RA21 is proposing is based on an open standardcalled SAML(Security Assertion Mark-up Language)that has existed for around 20 years. Essentially SAML is a structure for describing how information is exchanged about the rights that allow someone to access something. It’s a simple messaging protocol. It has been chosen because it has the ability to protect privacy and allow the user and their institution to decide what personal information, if any, is released to the content provider.